The story of this epic underwater selfie goes deeper than you think

It's been floating around for a while now.

Feb 29, 2020, 7:06 am*

Internet Culture

April Siese 

April Siese

Photo via burgernow/Imgur

An underwater selfie has been making the rounds the past few weeks, perplexing people the world over.

When you consider the cases that protect iPhones and GoPros from the elements, the shot in question sounds like mere daredevilry—until you take a look at the final image, that is.

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The photo appears to depict fairly normal activities, though set in an underwater tropical paradise. Such clear water breeds calls of “photoshopping!” and further skepticism. A typical response to such a selfie is to make jokes about submerging a laptop in water. There were reaction GIFs aplenty on Reddit as users jettisoned their curiosity away with comedy. The second most upvoted comment on Imgur, however, is: “I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.”

Hendi Syahputra, the Indonesian man behind the viral selfie, has been happy to offer answers. He’s been splitting his time in the country’s historic Yogyakarta region and the idyllic Bangka-Belitung Islands for years while continuing to focus on his studies.

After graduating from college with a degree in computer science, Syahputra moved onto work as an assistant manager at an automotive company. Still, his wanderlust persisted.

Living in the coastal region of Mukomuko offered Syahputra copious opportunities to travel. An avid snorkeling and scuba enthusiast, many trips included breathtaking underwater selfies, among them the shot that helped earn him some 52,000 Instagram followers.

He posted this behind-the-scenes video in January. Yes, the laptop is real and had been broken prior to its underwater excursion, as had the tent situated at the bottom of Bannerman Ponggok, a natural pond known as a snorkeling paradise to those who visit central Java.

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Indonesia is known as the country that put selfie sticks on the map. The literal translation from the Indonesian tongkat narsis is the fitting but comical “narcissist staff.” Syahputra’s shots are anything but self-absorbed, offering admirers a window into the beauty of southeast Asia while chronicling the adventures of a man who, by all accounts, lives a pretty normal life when he’s above sea level. 

Otherwise, he lives by this Minangkabau proverb: Alam takambang jadi guru. Put simply: “We learn from nature.”

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*First Published: May 13, 2016, 10:30 am